Ichigo wakes up in a mysterious world facing a Zaraki Kenpachi that is ready to kill him. In the real world, the almost completely Hollow form of Ichigo is now fighting against the Vizard named Love. Watching from outside the force field, Kensei tells Lisa that out of their group, Hiyori took the longest to do this with a time of 69 minutes and 2 seconds. In comparison, Ichigo has already taken 68 minutes and 44 seconds. Back inside the mysterious world, Ichigo tries to tell Zaraki that their fight is already over, but Zaraki asserts that a fight isn’t over until only one person is left standing and that you don’t need a reason to fight. Zaraki claims that Ichigo wants to fight and wants power – they were born that way. With Zaraki urging him to fight and memories of his past battles filling his mind, Ichigo finally regains his senses in the sideways world and pulls the sword out of his abdomen. He proceeds to stab through Hollow Ichigo with it, and it turns Hollow Ichigo black, just like him. Hollow Ichigo decides to let Ichigo be king for now, but he warns that if Ichigo lets down his guard even a little, he’ll crush Ichigo. He also says that if Ichigo wants to control his real power, then Ichigo needs to stay alive until his Hollow side appears again. While this had been going on, the Hollow Ichigo in the real world had been charging up a Cero blast to fire at Love, but it never came because the internal fight ended. Following a large explosion, the real Ichigo sheds the Hollow skin and falls to the ground soon after. He tells Shinji that it doesn’t feel bad, and then tells himself that he won’t let his Hollow side crush him.
Inoue is meanwhile coming back from school while trying to keep from being depressed about Ichigo not showing up. She thinks about going out for snacks with Tatsuki, but then remembers that Tatsuki hasn’t been energetic recently either. When she gets home, she finds that Hitsugaya and Rangiku have installed a special giant television screen in her apartment that allows them to communicate with Soul Society. Using it, Hitsugaya contacts Yamamoto and learns that the Aizen’s true objective has been confirmed. Ukitake had been investigating the Great Library of Spirits when he discovered a document unrelated to the Hougyoku that Aizen had accessed. This document had been about the ouken – the key of the royal family. Inoue doesn’t know what they’re talking about, so Rangiku and Yamamoto explain that there is a king of Soul Society who has a symbolic and absolute existence. This king lives in a different dimension inside of Soul Society, and the key opens up that dimension. From all of this, Yamamoto has concluded that Aizen intends to kill the king, but it’s more complicated than that. The location of the key is only orally passed down between generations of the commanders of the Gotei 13, so there are no written records. What Aizen had been looking at was the way to create the key, and this requires 100,000 souls along with a juureichi – a place in the real world that is a spiritual singularity. This places turns out to be none other than Karakura Town, and if Aizen completes a key in the way the documents say to, then everything around there would be wiped out forever.
Fortunately, the Gotei 13 are here to stop him, and they have four months before the Hougyoku awakens completely. Until then, Aizen can’t get his units in order and move out. Yamamoto estimates that the decisive battle will be fought this winter, so they need to train and prepare for it. He also specifically asks for the help of Inoue and everyone in the real world, so he wants her to go tell Ichigo. After Inoue runs out, Rangiku leaves too to go tell Ikkaku, but Yamamoto stops Hitsugaya from going with her because there’s someone who’s been waiting to speak with him: Hinamori. At this time, Renji is training Sado and Ryuuken is training his son as Inoue hurries her way towards Ichigo.
I always thought that Aizen was a really cool bad guy up to this point. Or rather, I should say that he still is cool, but I think this whole plot to kill the king of Soul Society sounded really stupid. I always thought Aizen was just trying to get stronger, past what he could do as a Shinigami. Maybe it’ll make more sense if and when Aizen’s past and motivations become clearer. I also suspect that overthrowing the king can’t only be the only thing that Aizen’s after.
Overall, I liked how this episode showed Ichigo’s inner battle in parallel with the outer battle with the other Vizard (in the manga the two were put in different chapters). However, I thought the episode ended rather weakly. They should have either never showed Hinamori, or the episode should have ended right when we saw her face. Either way would have created more anticipation going into next week’s episode.